"Saul hath slain his thousands,
Saul did not like this, and an evil spirit of jealousy came upon him, and he thought, "What can he have more but the kingdom."
The next day the evil spirit came upon Saul in the house, and David played on his harp to quiet him, but Saul hurled a spear at David, hoping to fasten him to the wall with it. This he did twice, but the Lord guided the spear away from David, just as he guided the pebble to Goliath, and he was unhurt. Saul was afraid of David. He was afraid that God was preparing him to be king over Israel, so he sent him into battle, hoping he would be killed, but the life of David was in the Lord's hand, and no enemy could destroy it.
After a great battle, in which David had been victorious, the evil spirit came again upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand, while David played on the harp. Again he tried to kill David, but the spear struck the wall and David slipped away.
[Illustration: The spear struck the wall]
It was clear that David could not live near the king, and so he talked with Jonathan, his friend, who said,
"God forbid, thou shalt not die," but David said,
"Truly there is but a step between me and death."
Then they made a promise to each other before the Lord that should last while they lived. They promised to show "the kindness of the Lord" to each other while life should last.
Jonathan told David that he might go away for three days, and they went out into a field together. They feared the anger of Saul when he found that David was absent from the feast of the new moon. So Jonathan told David to return after three days and hide behind a great rock in the field. Then Jonathan said he would come out and shoot three arrows from his bow, as if he were shooting at a mark, and he would send his arrow-bearer to pick them up. If he should call to the lad, "The arrows are on this side of thee," David would know that Saul was not angry, and would not hurt him, but if he cried, "The arrows are beyond thee," David would know he was in danger and must go away.
On the second day of the feast, Saul asked why David was not there, and Jonathan told him he had asked permission to go away for three days. Then Saul was very angry. He blamed his son for loving David, for, as Saul's son, Jonathan should be king after his death, but he never would be if David lived, and he commanded Jonathan to bring him that he might put him to death. When Jonathan asked what evil David had done that he should be put to death, Saul cast his spear at his own son. Then Jonathan knew there was no hope for David, and left the table in sorrow.
The next day he went out to the rock in the field with his armor-bearer and sent him on before. When he shot an arrow, he cried:
"The arrow is beyond thee; make haste! stay not!"
And David, in his hiding place heard it, and knew that he must flee for his life.
Then Jonathan gave his bow and arrows to the lad to take to the town, and David came out from his hiding place, and they kissed each other and wept together. But at last Jonathan said:
"Go in peace: as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my children and thy children forever."
And David went away to hide from Saul, and Jonathan went back to the king's house.
For seven years Saul hunted for David to take his life, and David, often hiding in caves in the wilderness, could not see his friend Jonathan, but they were faithful in their friendship, and when at last Saul was slain in battle, and Jonathan also, David came to mourn over his friend, saying:
"I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me; thy love for me was wonderful, passing the love of women."